SANTA CRUZ — The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not seek the death penalty in a federal capital murder case involving a Ben Lomond man, according to legal filings Monday.

[vc_row][vc_column][us_carousel post_type="ids" ids="260184, 260250, 107361" orderby="post__in" items_quantity="3" items_layout="11024" columns="3" items_gap="5px" overriding_link="post" breakpoint_1_cols="4" breakpoint_2_cols="3" breakpoint_3_cols="2"][/vc_column][/vc_row]
{ "slotId": "7483666091", "unitType": "in-article", "pubId": "pub-9300059770542025" }
Steven Carrillo wears a mask with “We The People” “BLM” and “#Portland, #Kenosha, #George Floyd and #Breonna Taylor” written on it while listening to court proceedings in August 2020 at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin. Carrillo, who is associated with an extremist Libertarian group, faces charges in federal and state court of first gunning down Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood in Oakland, and then, a week later, murdering Santa Cruz Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller at an ambush in Ben Lomond. (Doug Duran — Bay Area News Group file) 

Alleged cop-killer Steven Carrillo, 33, is facing capital murder charges in two separate 2020 cases that took place a week apart. In the federal case, Carrillo and co-defendant Robert Justus, of Millbrae, are alleged to have conspired to shoot and kill a contracted federal protective services officer, Dave Patrick Underwood, on May 29, 2020 in Oakland. A week later, Carrillo was arrested and charged with state capital crimes related to the alleged ambush-style shooting death of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller and the injury of two additional officers June 6, 2020 in Ben Lomond.

In both cases, prosecutors have declined to rule out seeking a potential death sentence until this week. Carrillo’s indictments are considered capital murder cases because they involve the killing of law enforcement officers.

Though U.S. Attorney’s Office filing has formalized the office’s intention not to seek the death penalty in the federal case, a similar decision remained an open question in the Santa Cruz County murder case.

After court hearings in 2020 and 2021, Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell told gathered press that “we are considering all options” and that everything remained “on the table.” Rosell could not be reached for comment on the federal filing Monday.

Though capital punishment remains technically legal in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium in March 2019 on executions of the state’s existing death row inmates. Newsom has since signaled a plan to make permanent a pilot program, launched in 2020, that began the dispersal of death row inmates to alternative maximum-security facilities, according to the Associated Press.

[vc_row height="auto" width="full" css="%7B%22default%22%3A%7B%22margin-left%22%3A%220%22%2C%22margin-top%22%3A%220%22%2C%22margin-bottom%22%3A%220%22%2C%22margin-right%22%3A%220%22%2C%22padding-left%22%3A%220%22%2C%22padding-top%22%3A%220%22%2C%22padding-bottom%22%3A%220%22%2C%22padding-right%22%3A%220%22%7D%7D"][vc_column][us_page_block id="48000"][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Carrillo last appeared for a Santa Cruz County Superior Court hearing in June, when he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. To date, no jury trial schedule has been established. A date-setting hearing in the case is scheduled for April 4, however.

In the federal Oakland case, Carrillo’s codefendant Robert Justus, of Millbrae, is facing a parallel legal process. U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds, similarly, will not seek the death penalty for Justus, according to her office’s filing.